Under The Radar – Hardstyle’s Most Underrated Artists.
According to one of the most random definitions that I pulled from the Urban Dictionary, underrated can be precisely described as:
“You’re the shit, you’re down as hell and everything about you is great, BUT people don’t think too much of you because they don’t know you.”
With trends coming and going in the hardstyle scene it’s easier than anticipated for some artists to unintentionally slip slightly underneath the radar. What I mean by this is that there are some amazingly talented artists who unfortunately don’t get the exposure that they deserve or make the music that suits these trends sweeping by. With such a competitive market and younger carbon copies of pioneering names floating around, it’s sometimes difficult to not follow trends and get caught up in what everybody else is raving on about.
Over the years, I’ve been keeping a close eye on a few particular artists who have exceptional production skills, yet don’t have a whole load of bookings or aren’t quite playing on the stages that they deserve to standing on. In short, the following artists that I’m going to mention are some of the many underrated names in today’s scene and they seriously deserve a round of applause. Saying that, I think that it’s time we honour these undervalued names a little more and show them some support!
So sit back, relax and check out who we think should be reeling in some well-deserved appreciation (in no particular order).
“Get yo beast mode on!” may very well be the only Waverider related lyric that hardstyle fans know and well, for those of you who haven’t been fallen under the spell of his melodic, yet powerful sound, let me inform you that you haven’t lived yet. Andy Blom, or better known on stage as Waverider has been releasing on A-line labels since around 2010, playing at a bunch of parties but still has never gained that big recognition for his creativity.
His earlier tracks such as “Dilemma,” “TMU” with Audiofreq and “Outer Space” are infectious, they pack a whole lot of energy and drive in, yet only a small number of fans remember them. You can see that Waverider kept up recently by smashing out the melodic and emotionally driven “Code Red,” featuring Pyke, collabs project banger “Beat Mode” featuring MC DL and another dynamic masterpiece, “Skyscraper.” I think that it’s slipped a lot of people’s minds that this Scantraxx representative has even collaborated with Noisecontrollers to create “Have You,” one of the many amazing tracks from the album ‘All Around.’
It’s all well and good to talk about an impressive discography, bringing passion to the decks and being an overall down-to-Earth guy, but the real question is: why isn’t Waverider tearing apart the mainstages?
If you look at it from a musical perspective, Waverider makes hardstyle that isn’t euphoric to the point of being in a cheese coma and it’s not raw either – this middle-ground is something that a lot of artists today aren’t doing and you’re damned for not following the scene’s trends.
From our end, a lot of respect goes out to Waverider for always creating the music that he wants to create and for also pushing his energetic and driving, yet melodic music – we hope that his slow and steady rise will lead him to be a pioneer in the future.
Hailing from the heart of all things pasta and pizza, Jacopo Mariotti, or better known as the ultimate “Maddafakka Maddafakka,” (Kronos) is another amazing artist who we would love to see performing in The Netherlands more often! Signed to Zatox’s label ‘Unite Records’ in 2013, this guy has already released a shitload of amazing music, even more than some artists who’ve been with a label for longer. Specialising in his signature ‘raw and Italian’ sound, Jacopo doesn’t simply make distorted kicks and dying-cat influenced screeches to gain credibility.
His high-energy and slightly aggressive sound displays a high level of attention towards sound design and creating relentless atmospheres.
The first track I heard from this Italian stallion was “Kaboom” and since then I’ve kept my eye closely on his work and how he’s developing in the scene. He followed with releasing more and more killer tracks such as “Go To Hell,” “Who Has Won” featuring Serina and my personal favourite “Game Over” with Drone. He’s gained thousands of fans since his origination, yet in my eyes I’ve heard so many potential hits that should have secured him a load of bookings in The Netherlands and internationally.
Many raw fans would have heard his music from 2015 such as “Boom Baby,” “Fuck The System” with Zatox and “Kannibals,”which were all potential hits. Unlike a lot of raw artists who make music that’s far too kick-oriented, Kronos’ music has this unique bounce and great atmosphere to it, it’s really easy to listen to and it definitely goes off on the dance-floor!
This guy deserves some credibility – go and buy his music!
#3 Josh & Wesz – *TRIBUTE*
Old-school flavour with a modern edge, reverse bass and an undying dedication to creating high-quality and timeless tunes are just some things that constitute the power-duo Josh & Wesz. The guys kicked their career off in 2006 with their first release “Rock It,” then continued to release some unforgettable tracks such as “Like Thiz,” “Let It Go” with D-Block & S-te-Fan and “Oblivion.” With huge credibility throughout their earlier years, Josh & Wesz suddenly slipped under the radar when the great divide between euphoric and raw arose around 2013. This fade occurred only one year after a time when they released some of their greatest creations to date such as “Acquittal,” “Underground Language” and “Dream Planet,” which had the ability to send shivers up every listener’s spine.
I strongly believe that the reason this incredible duo slipped under the radar was the public’s sudden infatuation with raw hardstyle and the modernised hardstyle sound. Although the roots of hardstyle have always been appreciated, this new found trend and also all of the bullshit and controversy surrounding the split between euphoric and raw saw Josh & Wesz releasing no music for two years. These years were such a shame, mostly because the duo has such an incredibly creative spirit within their music and they also approach hardstyle from a unique perspective. I can understand why Josh & Wesz didn’t release any music for a couple of years, if I were them I would have felt very demotivated with the sudden changes that happened in the scene but fortunately all of the modern bullshit didn’t stop this incredible duo forever.
In 2015, the guys were back with a bang and three incredible 2009 inspired releases that sent the scene into a curveball. “Retrospect,” “World At Peace” and “Resurgence” have undoubtedly climbed their way to become some of 2015’s biggest musical highlights and also the re-appreciation of music from the ‘golden era’ has scored them some incredible gigs. I’ve been lucky enough to experience some of Josh & Wesz’s performces this year and every time they step down from the decks everybody in the vicinity feels such an invigorating and unique energy – something that many modern artists can’t provide.
Josh & Wesz, we love you and hope that you continue on this amazing musical journey.
Hallucinogenic atmospheres, groovy vibes and an experimentalist approach to hard dance is only the beginning of what token hipster Geck-o brings to the scene. Rik van Dam has been taking listeners on a magical expedition through sound and space since 2007, tantalising all senses and bringing about a sensational full-body experience. It’s been evident from the start that Geck-o showcased a certain charm and open-mindedness through his music and tracks such as “It’s What We Are,” “Dancing Machine,” “Aha” and pretty much the rest of his entire discography crowned him as the #1 innovator in hardstyle. One of his evergreen tracks “Soul Train” is the definition of pure perfection, it has the ability to bring about some degree of synesthesia – it’ll have you hearing colours and seeing sounds!
Geck-o’s entertainment factor within his music is incredible and every time you listen to his tracks it’s likely that you’ll discover something new that you hadn’t noticed before. His sound has always been inspired by hard trance and many other genres of dance music and combined with his vibrant and peculiar mind, everything Rik touches turns to gold.
Although Geck-o is one of the best when it comes to sound design and putting his creativity into music he is also extremely underrated. Most fans of hardstyle like his music but won’t go out of their way to listen to it religiously or push to have him playing on big stages mainly because it breaks a lot of boundaries. However, I have a feeling that Geck-o doesn’t really seem to mind – his music is made to break boundaries and open minds and he probably doesn’t care about being the biggest producer in the world, his focus lies more in creating music wants to create.
Let’s continue our discovery with another representative of Italian hardstyle who is also a part of the Unite family. The bearded wonder Alessandro Leotta, AKA Raxtor is an artist who puts the style back into hardstyle with his quirky approach to the genre. This Italian master lives to innovate, add flavour and open minds with his music, but unfortunately he has fallen under the radar. After signing to Unite Records in 2013, Alessandro released tracks such as “V.I.B.E,” “Wild Skin” and “Bring Me Down,” which by opinion is one of the most unusually incredible tracks in the modern era. Taking a different route in production, Raxtor is an artist that firmly believes in innovation as he packs in a load of unexpected groove to his music.
Most recently, his track “Bassdrum” welcomed some positive responses – the almost robotic sounds in it differ from your average screech and the drum-like kicks really add to that mechanical vibe.
With such an amazing collection of music it’s more than a shame that we don’t see Raxtor in The Netherlands very often. It could be the unfortunate reality that hardstyle fans want something a little bit more basic and party oriented, but I say, let’s keep the V.I.B.E!
#6 The Machine
From the mysterious landscape of Lithuania, a young production mastermind hails, leading the way in innovative and eerie, yet wonderful music. Ramunas Vabolis, who is the prodigy behind The Machine is recognised as one of the most interesting and underrated producers in the hardstyle scene. Beginning his career at the age of 17 with his first release, Ramunas has stayed persistent and dedicated to moving listeners outside the ordinary and mundane and taking them on a journey through the unknown.
With an extensively impressive discography up his sleeve and a knack for sound design, The Machine is undoubtedly one of the biggest assets to the scene. His dark, raw and slightly obscure sound is something that’s can draw in all kinds of hardstyle fans – which could be the unfortunate reason why this genius hasn’t experienced the breakthrough he deserves. His sophisticated and intelligent approach to hardstyle is incredible and tracks such as “Apocalypse” with Titan, “Rollin,” and “Hit Em Up” should be reeling in the appreciation. Another one of my favourites and one of his older tracks, “Enjoy” with Alphaverb is the perfect example of versatility and flavour; the old vibes and balance between hard kicks and the invigorating melody makes this track a true hard-hitter.
Like versatility and broken boundaries? You’ll love The Machine!
Although he takes the throne of being the number one German hardstyle producer, Fabian Schmidt, AKA Omegatypez is still recognised as one of the most underrated figures in the scene. With a plethora of amazing releases up his sleeve and a breakthrough early on in his career, the greatness of Omegatypez has unfortunately drifted off in recent years.
From 2012 onwards, the act experienced a fast rise after releasing a several top-notch productions including “Digital Revolution,” “Calling,” “Dirty Style” and “Fiction.” As melodic based hardstyle was still at the end of its peak at this time and raw and dark sounds were creeping up, this caused Omegatypez breakthrough to come to a halt.
Although raw hardstyle was becoming the dominant force, this didn’t stop Fabian from pursuing his signature sound and releasing more incredible creations like “Take Me High,” “Infinite Universe” with Adrenalize, “Get Up!” “New Moon” and “Good Love.” Omegatypez has always stood for high-quality music that packs in a euphoric, feel-good vibe without putting listeners into a cheese induced coma.
It’s more than a shame that this German prodigy doesn’t have a whole lot of bookings in The Netherlands and in general, but we are hoping that with a melodic come-back he will find himself standing on several stages again. With his music standing out and touching on that middle-ground that some producers tend to avoid, we feel as though this crazy beer drinking German deserves some more recognition!
With already two stellar albums and a shitload of incredible releases under their belt, this duo may not come as a surprise to this list. Marco Spronk and Antoine Kraaij, who make up the diverse and underrated act Phuture Noize have been making waves and pushing the boundaries of hardstyle since their first release in 2009. With their focus on approaching raw hardstyle in a sophisticated and intelligent way, Phuture Noize are intent on doing things differently and not falling into mundane productions.
Early on in their career, the duo released their first album “Music Rules The Noize” which contained a stellar track-list and a tasteful balance between raw atmospheres and melodic backgrounds. Tracks such as “On With The Show” with Phrantic, “Liberal” with Josh & Wesz and “Compressed Thoughts” broke boundaries and were some of the many highlights from this album. Following releases such as “Runnin,” and their remix for Digital Punk’s “Oblivion” demonstrated a crunchy and raw sound that wasn’t unbearably raw and could still be enjoyed by everybody. With their sound edging towards the raw sphere, these guys pretty much got shoved on line-ups where they couldn’t really play their music and had to resort to playing random popular raw hits.
When their second album “Phuture Propaganda” dropped, waves were created, yet the overall response wasn’t as big as it could have been. Instead of jumping on the extremely raw bandwagon, the guys took a different approach by creating atmospheric music that moved towards more of a middle-ground. Quirky and unexpected productions such as “Hope,” “Time Moves On” and “Freedom” demonstrated a unique and matchless creativity.
Their music no longer fits on raw stages, it’s more suitable to be played on mainstages which is where I hope to see these guys playing in the coming years.